March 31, 2008

Grudge Match: Avatar vs. Dragonball

Welcome to Grudge Match, a new feature of mine! In Grudge Match, I basically pit two things against each other and one emerges victorious. Simple enough, right? Then, let's get started. In the first edition of Grudge Match, I'll be pitting Avatar against Dragonball. Only one animated program will reign supreme! Who will it be?

First, a little back story on the shows being compared:

Drgonball is a series of shows that ran from the late 80s to the mid 90s. I really don't have to go into detail about it because everyone and their uncle has heard of Dragonball. Of course, the most famous incarnation is Dragonball Z, which was know for its breakneck action Seriously, if you watch it too long you neck will snap!

Avatar: The last Airbender is the greatest animated show you've never heard of. That's probably because it airs on Nickelodeon. Yep, the greatest action cartoon of the the decade and, quite possibly, this generation is on a children's programing channel. Do not be deceived! Avatar is a great show. It is most certainly not just for kids! In fact, it does quite well out of its 6-11 year old demographic. Take my advice, check avatar out. The best animated show currently on TV is right under your nose, and you're missing it.


Lets start off by comparing the animation:

Both Avatar and Dragonball (all of them) are action heavy shows. Dragonball has amazing animation for being produced in the early 90s, especially considering it was all animated by hand. Dragonball is famously known for being one of (if not the best) the bes action cartoons ever created. EVER! It's hard to top that! If there's one show that can top it, however, it's Avatar. Using all the newfangled technology of today, the show is drawn up, then computerized and stuffimacated. The show is colored, special effects are added, and what we end up with is pure beauty. The action is perfect. Absolutely perfect. If Dragonball invented action, Avatar has refined it. However! I've got to give the edge to Dragonball here simply because what TOEI animation did back in the 90s was like what Avatar has done now. It was incredible for its time, and has withstood the test of time. Dragonball Z is pretty much the action show that all other action shows get compared to. Therefore, Dragonball wins.


Well, now here's where things get complicated. Dragonball and Avatar both have pretty good plots. I would have to leave it up to which plot is deeper and more thought out, and, boy, is that tough. I could go with Dragonball here again because it's a classic, but I won't. Don't get me wrong, I love Dragonball and it's story, but it just gets repetitive after a while. Then again, that the curse for having a show thats 300+ episodes in length. Avatar, on the other hand, is only 61 episodes total (about the length of Dragonball GT) and tells one story arch. That keeps things fresh throughout in my opinion. In Dragonball it's basically: fight villain, win, more powerful villain, power up, win, repeat ad infinitum. Avatar has one central villain, with one central story leading up to the final battle with said villain. That's not to say the plot is as simple as that, because it's not, but it's shorter and therefore doesn't get old. When Avatar ends, though, there is a high possibility of a spinoff in the same universe. In both shows, the character themselves all have their own backstories, but you find yourself caring for the characters of Avatar just a little bit more. For all these reasons, I'm going to have to give Avatar the edge in the story department.


This one kind of goes back to animation. The action in both shows is simply amazing. Rather than giving Dragonball the edge here again, I'm going to have to call this one a tie. The two shows have very different types of action sequences and the animation works well for each show in each situation. Dragonball is a classic, yes, but you simply can't ignore that Avatar's action is intense and awesome. They're equally different, yet equally awesome.

Compare yourself:

The fighting styles in Avatar are based off actual martial arts styles.


Dragonball has some of the most recognizable characters in all of television. Then again, that's because it's had time to be recognized. I won't give Dragonball the edge for that reason, however. I will say this, though: Although you find yourself caring more for the characters of Avatar, the characters of Dragonball have had far more time to develop. You can't help but feel like you've been a part of Goku's whole life as you watch him grow from a kid to a middle-aged man. You can't help but shout "Yes!" when Vegeta has a change of heart. You can't help but laugh at how lame Krillin still is after all those years. It's just simply something you can't find as much in Avatar. The prime example of this is Zuko, who does undergo a change of heart, but you can really see it coming from a mile away. Fans who have watched Dragonball from the beginning know what I'm talking about. Those who watch Avatar from the beginning after watching DB will know what I mean.


The acting in both shows is great. Personally, I love the Funimation voice cast of Dragonball, I think the old sound effects are great, and the music goes well. However, Avatar has it beat. This is one category that DB doesn't have an edge because it's a classic. The dubbing was done fairly recently and the voice actors are good, but in my opinion do not match the talent of Avatar. Everything about Avatar sound-wise is perfect. The voices perfectly match the characters, the sound effects perfectly match the action, and the music is just phenomenal. For those of you who always wanted to know, the music for Avatar is produced by The Track Team. Avatar has some of the best voice tallent, in my opinion, of any animated show ever (including the late Mako).

For those of you who really want to know:

Dragonball is the story of Goku, an humanoid being known as a Saiyan, who was sent to earth to destroy it only to have his memories erased in an accidental blow to the head. He later goes on a quest for the seven magic Dragonballs that, when gathered, will grant the finder any wish. Goku grows up to become Earth's defender against evil along with his buddies in the form of the Z Squad.

Avatar is the story of Aang an airbending monk who was frozen in an iceberg for 1000 years. He is discovered by Katara and Sokka of a northern waterbending village to be the avatar. Aang must master all four elements and stop the war between the fire nation and the other nations. Avatar takes place in a land with four nations each controlled by a different element: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Each nation has members with the special ability to manipulate their element called "benders". Only the Avatar, who is the master of all four elements, can bring peace to the world.

In Summary:
Animation: Drabonball wins because it's a classic.

Story: Avatar's story is deeper all around.

Action: Tie.

Characters: Dragonball's characters have more time to develop.

Sound: The sound of Avatar is just plain awesome in every way.


Avatar: 3

Dragonball: 3

The winner is....

Drabonball. Though the score ended up being a tie, Dragonball wins simply because it's a classic. Avatar will never be a replacement for Dragonball, but it has become for me the next Dragonball. I mean that in a sense that years from now we'll look back on Avatar as a classic in animation and we'll be talking about it as we're talking about Dragonball now. Maybe in 15 years when we're comparing Avatar to the next best thing, Avatar will win. But for now, Dragonball reigns supreme.


  1. I disagree on the action. Yes DB does have some epic fighting scenes but avatar based its fighting on actual martial arts styles. Also their techniques and how the characters use them is much better in DB where all they do is blast random energy beams every second. In avatar the characters think about there powers and use them to outwit their opponents.

  2. So your saying that Avatar has better action? I still say they're equally awesome. It's so hard to compare, though because the two are vastly different. That's why I made it a tie. Like I said, equally different, yet equally awesome.

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